WASHINGTON — After a heated and at times ugly Virginia governor’s race came to end Tuesday night, Governor-elect Ralph Northam called for unity at a press conference in Richmond the morning after his victory.
Northam repeated what he called the values on which he ran his campaign against Republican Ed Gillespie, touting the need for universal broadband, increased access to health care and the modernization of Virginia’s job market. But Northam also struck the congenial tone his campaign against Gillespie began with, emphasizing his desire to work with those who didn’t vote for him.
“And there are obviously … over a million people that didn’t vote for me, but one of the points that I like to make, and I made it last night, is that I’ve taken care of thousands of children and their families over the years, and never once has anybody asked me whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican, nor have I asked them. And that’s the way I plan to govern in the upcoming four years,” said Northam, describing his work as a pediatric neurologist.
Northam extended compliments to Gillespie, to whom he said he spoke after his victory and debated several times on the campaign trail.
“He’s a good man and he ran to make Virginia a better Commonwealth, and so I appreciate that. Ed is willing to heal Virginia with me, to bring people together, and I look forward to working with him as we move forward,” Northam said.
The Virginia governor’s race drew eyes from all around the nation and was viewed by many as an early referendum on President Donald Trump less than a year into his administration. While Northam vowed to stand up to Trump’s administration when policies coming out of D.C. are unacceptable to him, he also discussed a willingness to work with the White House on issues they can come together on.
Increased military spending would be beneficial to Virginia, Northam said, citing the production of warships and submarines in Newport News. Trump’s desire to avoid sequestration was another point that Northam says he agrees with, saying it hurt Virginia’s economy.
But when it came to issues such as health care and travel bans, Northam said he will not budge.
“Any plan that puts 30 million Americans at risk of losing their coverage is a nonstarter with me. So there are things that I plan to work with the president on; if there are things that are detrimental to Virginia, I’ll stand up for Virginia’s best interests,” Northam said.